For me, going to church is a lot like going to the gym. I can come up with a thousand reasons not to go to either one: I stayed out late last night, I don’t feel well, I’m tired, I’m not mentally prepared, I’m traveling, I have too much work to do and the list goes on. Sometimes, it just takes a lot to get me out the door.

However, going to church, much like going to the gym, forces me out of my comfort zone. Due to the nature of my jobs, I spend most of my time alone or with children. When I enter a church or a gym, I know that I’m going to have to interact with real people. I’m going to have to smile and shake hands. I may even have to talk to someone other than myself. And while I often avoid them, it’s good to have those interactions and to become a part of a community every once in awhile.

Still despite my excuses and hesitations, when I do finally drag myself to church or the gym, I don’t ever regret it. I always feel worlds better after listening to an insightful sermon or running on the treadmill than I did surfing the Internet or lying in bed. Standing in a sanctuary and singing a powerful hymn is just as good a cure for the blues as taking a kickboxing class. In the end, a good service, much like a good workout, can give me strength and put me in a positive mood for days to come.

Yes, I’ve realized that going to church is similar to going to the gym in a lot of ways, which isn’t always great for me. Because when it comes to my health, physical or spiritual, I tend to be all or nothing. Either I work out six days a week and refuse to eat anything unhealthy, or I rarely get off the couch and eat junk food every chance I can get. Likewise, I go to church every week, volunteer in my free time and do some sort of group or individual Bible study, or I go through long periods without picking up a Bible or entering a sanctuary. My analogy would be great if I was an Olympian or a pastor, but that’s just not the case.

In my life, I’ve been finding that my all or nothing approach often leads to disappointment, and so in both areas, spiritual and physical, I have been trying to learn how to compromise a little more. Maybe I don’t feel like driving out to the gym and being around people, but I can still do a workout tape at home. Maybe the thought of dressing up and sitting still for an hour of worship causes me anxiety, but I can still listen to the latest sermon when I go for a walk. I can still take a few extra minutes to pray before I start my day. I can still read some scripture or a blog post during the day to get me thinking. I can still try to be the best person I can be to those around me.

I’ll be the first to admit that I have my faults, and maybe I don’t have a grasp on how to stay fit or how to live a fulfilling spiritual life yet, but that doesn’t mean I can’t try. And so for now, I’m taking baby stepsdoing some stretches, if you willand personally, I think that’s a pretty good way to warm up.

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